New Orleans levee system preliminary report released

A preliminary data report on the performance of the New Orleans Levee Systems during Hurricane Katrina was released Wednesday. The report was compiled by technical assessment teams from ASCE and University of California-Berkeley. ASCE assessment team leader Peter G. Nicholson, Ph.D., P.E., also testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs concerning the team's observations...

RESTON, VA, Nov. 4, 2004 -- A preliminary data report on the performance of the New Orleans Levee Systems during Hurricane Katrina was released Wednesday. The report was compiled by technical assessment teams from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and University of California, Berkeley (UC- Berkeley). ASCE assessment team leader Peter G. Nicholson, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, also testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs concerning the team's observations.

The joint report details observations made by both the ASCE team and the National Science Foundation-sponsored UC-Berkeley team from Oct. 3-14, when they conducted onsite inspections and gathered data on the 17th Street Canal, London Avenue Canal and Industrial Canal levee breaches, among others in New Orleans. A downloadable copy of the report is available online at www.asce.org.

In his testimony, Nicholson will address commonly observed issues such as:
-- the role construction materials played in the degree of damage caused to different parts of the levee system;
-- the frequent presence of "transitions"
-- between different sections of the levees and the problems they caused;
-- and how soil instabilities appear likely to have been responsible for failure of the wall systems at two of the levee breeches.

He will also provide recommendations for preparing the New Orleans levee system for the next hurricane season, as well as call for a National Levee Inspection and Safety Program and encourage Congress to establish an independent advisory panel responsible for envisioning the future of the Gulf Coast and proposing ways to begin the rebuilding efforts.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is widely known for its infrastructure assessments and reports, including Building Performance Assessments of the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Murrah Federal Building, and its technical assessments following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Founded in 1852, ASCE represents more than 139,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society.

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